PLCA Celebrates Record 2008 At 61st Annual Convention

April 2009 Vol. 64 No. 4
2009 president Don Thorn of Welded LP (left) and outgoing president Bob Johnston of Henkels & McCoy Inc. (Photo by Ben Arnold)

Bob Johnston, outgoing president of the Pipe Line Contractors Association and vice president, division manager of Henkels & McCoy, Norman, OK, proclaimed 2008 to be a “very good year” at the association’s 61st annual convention held at the Four Seasons Resort Aviara in Carlsbad, CA. There were 565 attendees.

“We worked 11,930,000 U.A. manhours – the second-best year ever, at least since we’ve been counting,” noted Johnston. The record year was1968 when PLCA members worked 12,049,657 manhours. Total dollar volume in 2008 was $8.7 billion with 6,704 miles of mainline laid and testing; rehab work added another 1,689 miles for a total of 8,393 miles.

This compared with 6,200 miles and 6.9 million manhours worked in 2007 with a volume of $3.7 billion representing a 234 percent increase in 2008. In 2006, only 1,600 miles of pipe were laid by association members.

The general consensus seems to be that work will continue at high levels at least through 2011.

Johnston also noted that the association reached a wage settlement in October with the Teamsters Union, in November with the operators and in January with the laborers. “Thanks to the labor committee, and especially Charlie Joyce (Otis Eastern Service, Inc.). You worked long, hard, grueling hours on the labor committee and, if you haven’t been there or helped with labor matters, it’s a tiring task.”

In other matters Johnston noted that the safety committee met twice last year, chaired by Brian Ganske of Snelson. The scholarship committee was chaired by Dave Stotz of Latex Construction Co. This year’s auction, held during the CRC and Ritchie Brothers event, raised over $500,000 for the scholarship fund. When Rod Henkels offered to match up to $50,000, individual contributions by members helped push the total to this mark.

Labor shortage

Skilled labor shortages have been a big issue the last few years and Johnston reported that the operators held 30 regional training classes and graduated 738 students which cost the PLCA $4 million. The teamsters trained 225 drivers and have another 96 signed up. In Tulsa the UA tested 659 welders and 85 percent passed the test. UA local 798 went from 150 Journeyman to 350 in one year.

“Safety is paramount,” noted Johnson. “We have great safety programs and try to go accident free. It’s a little hard to go accident free when about 25 percent of your work force are green hands.”

Johnson served in Vietnam in the U.S. Navy Seabees as an equipment operator for 20 months. “It was an experience I’ll never forget and it helped me with my pipeline career, which has covered a span of 44 years.”